Here, Now, a Few More Ideas for the Astrodome

HERE, NOW, A FEW MORE IDEAS FOR THE ASTRODOME Making the rounds this week are a couple more long shots for the Astrodome from people who don’t seem very keen on the 2,500 parking spaces the Texans and Rodeo proposed last week. First, you’ve got Ed Seale and his wife of “Keep the Astrodome,” who say they want to see the ol’ thing renovated into an global bazaar, reports KUHF’s Jack Williams, “a space filled with international, ethnic, cultural and business organizations . . . and ethnic restaurants.” And then there’s the UH graduate student Ryan Slattery, whose friend leaked online parts of his architecture master’s thesis that calls for the big baby to be stripped to a skeleton and used as greenspace: “If you don’t need it,” Slattery tells KHOU’s Jeremy Desel, “it does not need to be there. It is never going to be a stadium again. So you don’t need the seats. You need to take those seats out. Concrete on the facade? You don’t need that.” Adds Slattery: “If and when the Astrodome does come down you will see a grown man cry.” [KUHF; KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

35 Comment

  • Once again, how do you pay for these things and what purpose will they serve? Who is going to make the drive and fight traffic on Rodeo and game days to go eat at an ethnic restaurant? I’m also astonished at how many people want it made into a parking garage. I parked once in the Toyota Center garage and will never do it again because the traffic getting out of there is an absolute nightmare.


  • I think skeleton-izing it is the way to go. After all, the roof’s really the important part of the Dome, right? And if it’s no longer indoors, a lot of the health and maintenance issues go away. A shaded park underneath would be quite nice.

    Heck, it could still park the same number of cars, more or less, if that’s what the the footprint is really needed for. Maybe more, if you used the big hole they dug during construction to make a multi-level parking garage. Top level would make a nice refuge during pre-game tailgating, which is otherwise on a completely shadeless blacktop; bet lots of rodeo carnival patrons would like that too.

    But I kind of think, just like there are basketball courts around the basketball stadium, there ought to be a football field there, even if the rest of the footprint is used for parking. Pickup flag games before game day under the old Astrodome! How awesome is that? A feature no other stadium in the NFL could boast! It could even be the Texans practice facility, and the bubble could be turned into parking.

  • Mostly because I have been tossing it around in my head: How about a public gymnasium sports complex kinda deal? My mouth waters at the thought of an indoor well-lit air conditioned walking/running track that is usable at any time of the day and in any weather. Basically make it look like the olympics tracks where there is a lot of stuff happening in the middle as well – tennis courts, basketball courts, workout equipment etc. I would gladly pay for membership and it would bring in money for the govt. too?

  • Blow it up with a kick ass rock soundtrack and fireworks and laser light show.


  • I am finally coming around to the idea that stripping down the dome as proposed by the achitecture student and creating some kind of multi-use park underneath it is the best way to go. It allows us to preserve the history of the dome and create a new public amenity at the same time. Does it is create enough of a revenue stream to sustain it and/or justify the expense of creating it? No, but what park does? What to put in the park can be left to better minds than mine to decide. But some of the ideas contributed by other have promise, such as covered tailgating areas, touch football fields, green-space for hanging out during the rodeo, and other events, etc. Heck, just going to look at the superstructure and hanging out below the huge expanse of a roof is a good enough reason to pack up the family for a picnic (as long as we don’t have to pay the $10+ parking fee parking fee to do it).

  • I’ve always thought the skeleton idea was the way to go and build a park “inside”. The Astrodome has been called Houston’s “Eiffel Tower”, so make it our Eiffel Tower. It could be laid out much like Discovery Green, but so much better in many ways. Imagine the skeleton lit up by solar LED lights at night. You want to attract more conventions and big sporting events? This will make Houston an actual tourist destination. For those hung up on the Super Bowl bid, imagine what the Goodyear blimp flyover shot would look like when, instead of a boring stadium (face it, Reliant isn’t exactly a work of art) and parking lots, an amazing and thoroughly unique structure was the focal point. Would it be expensive? Yep. Difficult? Yep. But then nothing good comes from fear and frugality. BTW, I was a big supporter of ripping it down until this idea. This could be one of Houston’s great monuments.

  • Indoor soccer stadium!!

  • Slattery’s idea sounds pretty cool. I still think it’s just a desperate effort to hold on to something that is just not useful anymore, but at least he seems to acknowledge what is obvious to most of us: the Astrodome will never be a useful space for any of the other proposals and keeping it will be a purely sentimental exercise. This notion of filling it with restaurants and markets and whatnot is just silly.

  • Museum of Science and Technology. We don’t have one in Houston (the HMNS is a natural history museum, not really a science museum). Put a bunch of airplanes underneath that huge dome – from biplanes to WWII fighters to the SR-71. Have early steam and diesel engines, a cotton gin, and an early oil rig. Show the history of microscopes and telescopes with actual pieces. Have a gun and weapons collection. And the greatest piece in the collection will be the Astrodome itself, the world’s first domed stadium.

    Science & technology museums are monster draws in the cities that have them (Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, Washington’s National Air and Space Museum), and their value will only increase through time, unlike sports facilities, hotels, and entertainment venues, which generally go obsolete in 20-30 years.

  • I like my original plan, take out the seats in phases and sell on ebay and garage sales and turn the dome into a mini storage. it’s the only thing that makes sense and profit, minimal start up cost.

  • It must be skeletonized and made into park. This is a huge opportunity for a ready-made monument in Houston with the highest level of architectural and historical value. This would be our Mount Rushmore, our Millenium Park, our Golden Gate, our Hollywood sign. It would be the icon that puts Houston on level with the other great cities of this country. For the fourth largest metro population with the best economy in the country, do we not deserve it?
    It’s a perfect fit for an area that already draws huge crowds, and look no further than the popularity of Discovery Green for proof that it would be a giant hit. Slattery’s idea is catching fire and I really hope we get to a point where we can overlook short-term profitability for an already wealthy organization and make something amazing for the good of the city. Just once, Houston. Make your people proud.

  • Tear it down, add trees and plenty of native grasses, fill in the hole where the field is sunken below grade and, voila, you have “Dome Lake”!

    Tailgate or “sailgate”, your choice. A floating restaurant…. A beach… Let’s put our collective creativity to good use and design a public space that respects the importance of the beloved AstroDome, while keeps the Dome in the Houston lexicon for future generations.

    Bum Phillips really did walk on water. He was just before his time!

  • #4 for the win.

  • Am I the only one that’s sick and tired of hearing about the Dome? There seem to be an article every few days about it. Unless there’s a contest to be the guy to push the button when it’s blown up, I’m not interested.

  • I vote for indoor trap, skeet, and sporting clays.

  • Whatever they turn it into you’re still going to have to pay (parking) to get to it.

  • More Dome Lake ideas:
    1) Snorkel/Scuba diving
    2) Duck tours with replicas of former Astros/Oilers, Astroworld, etc.
    3) Nightclub on the lake
    4) Mini-marina
    5) Condos on the Lake
    6) Parking lots already in place
    7) Noise issues are not a problem

  • The reason it’s going to cost so much to demo the dome is all of that over-engineered superstructure. So then why demo it? World’s biggest carport and party pavilion. . .

  • biodome,yea right on dude!,

  • Okay.
    2 part idea here.
    Part 1. legalize gambling in Texas, but only on man-made lakes contained within the structure of disused domed stadiums.
    Part 2. strip that sucker down to bare metal, paint it for protection (rustoleum would probably pay for the costs if we called it rustoleum land park) and grow some ivy on it. Start building a gambling barge in the depressed area, and once the gambling barge is built, fill the depressed area in with water.
    part 3. success.

  • The answer is pretty clear – strip it down to its skeleton.

    * Make it a momunemt park. Hell, Call it memorial park.

    * Add parking underneath
    * Incorporate that space into an area the Texans / fans / rodeo venders and visitors can enjoy. Make it a symbol of Houston, effiel tower style.

  • I’ve sparingly looked into designating the Dome a historical building. Probs: (1) There’s really no protection for a building unless it’s w/ the city of Houston. So going over the heads of the county (to the state)wouldn’t do much good b/c they can’t protect it. (2) The county would actually have to sponsor any designation. (3) Unless it’s federally recognized, there isn’t a way for the renovations to get any $ help. (4) If the county continues owning the structure, any $ benefit of a historical landmark does no good b/c it’s mostly about the restoration / re-purpose work being tax exempt,etc. Please check my work, but I think this is all accurate. My humble idea would be for the county to sponsor the Astrodome as a historical landmark at the city, state, and federal level. Can you imagine Houston being at the cusp of designating a ‘modern’ structure as a historical landmark. Then they ‘give’ it away to a private company or conservancy (we’d have to create one) that has a county approved re-purposing plan. Then get the city of Houston to grant some of that sweet, sweet 380 agreement $ to the cause. Finally, get the TIRZ off it’s rear and have them fork over some moola. Thoughts?

  • The following would only require minimal repairs and upgrades and each would pay homage to the “8th wonder of the world” theme:

    1. World’s largest paintball facility
    2. World’s largest skateboard park
    3. World’s largest Crossfit “Box” (if you do not know what a “box” means in crossfit-ese, give me another 10 burpees).
    4. World’s largest Parkour/freeruning facility
    5. World’s largest feral cat colony
    6. World’s largest Medieval themed restaurant
    7. World’s largest legal grafitti “canvas”

  • check out this tropical resort inside a giant airplane hanger in Germany:

    yes we can!

  • @old school, pretty sure it already qualifies as number 5.

  • We have heard many idea’s but what about turning it into a small indoor/outdoor theme park?! Astro World had a great run and then demolished into a dirt parking lot for the rodeo and other events. It could be called, “Dome World.”

    How about that?!

  • None of these ideas can ever get any financing because they could all be built, land and all, for far less than it would cost to renovate the dome. Indoor amusement park, parking garage, hotel, restaurants could all be built brand new for a lot less.

  • It’s very sad to read the idiots who just want to blow up the dome…they have no sense of history, their stupidity is breathtaking…just when you think people can’t be any more obtuse you read one of these morons talk about wanting to be the one to blow up this iconic building. I appreciate the people on this blog that give real ideas to what to do with the stucture..personally, I like the UH’s students idea of a park in the skeleton of the dome..I also appreciate the judge caring about the dome and not just letting McNair and the Rodeo destroy it like it’s some tract home in Alief..

  • Turn the Astrodome into a billion miniature models of itself. Sell them all as official souvenirs. Relics, if you like. You can break it up into a billion concrete chunks and run each one through one of those 3-D machining apparatuses. Different prices for different sizes. You’re welcome.

  • The fact that everyone goes to cost vs. revenue on this is absolutely sickening. It’s a piece of history, and the only landmark this city has, and so many people are happy to just blow it up because that’s that cheap thing to do.

  • What about indoor skiing like they have in Japan?

  • Dome Skeleton Park for the win! This is the only feasible idea that I have seen.

    That or the airplane museum…

  • Skeletonize it and offer VIP shaded tailgating spots.

  • Strip it down and make it one of those multi-level urban organic gardens and market!!!